20 November 2010

Comics for Guys Only?

Graphic Novel Reporter is featuring an interview with Bill Zimmerman about his new book, Your Life in Comics.

One notable aspect of this project is that it’s explicitly aimed toward boys. The subtitle is 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw. The pictures show boys. The second color printed inside is, of course, blue.

Zimmerman explains:

A few years ago, I had written a book for the same publisher, Free Spirit Publishing, to help boys navigate adolescence—it is called 100 Things Guys Need to Know. When I originally proposed Your Life in Comics, I saw it as a book for boys and girls, but the publisher wanted instead a companion book to the original 100 Things. The subjects covered in the book should appeal, too, to girls since there are a number of boy-girl situations, but I am now working on a similar book for girls that hopefully will join the boys book.
Which will have different illustrations and, presumably, a different second color. Later in the interview Zimmerman adds that he’s working on that second book “With my daughter and wife,” which makes sense for both content and marketing. Because once a book raises the issue of group identity, buyers want to know if the author belongs. (There is, at this point, no 100 Things Gals Need to Know.)

It’s interesting that the push for a gendered book came from the publisher, which describes itself as “known for its unique understanding of what kids want (and need) to navigate life successfully.” Of course, that approach also fits with some cultural expectations about the comics form, right or wrong.

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